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Fostering a Community of Diverse Voices

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Shiselle Povedano
MAIR '21

Q: What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 

A: I believe the best way to demonstrate one's talent is to create change in the world. Creating change, however, requires interdisciplinary learning beyond regional and functional expertise. Coming from an economics background, my attention diverted toward SAIS right away. I was seeking a program that would allow me to specialize, but still pushed its students to have a multifaceted skillset. Coming from an economics background, one of the main factors that made me lean toward SAIS was how the institution recognized that economics is an essential part of policy making, international affairs and people's wellbeing. With that in mind, knowing that I would be able to spend two years in the heart of federal and international policymaking was also a reassuring factor. 

Q: Could you tell us about your involvement with SAIS Women Lead (SWL).

A: Before coming to SAIS I knew I wanted to dedicate my graduate experience to exploring women's issues and the role of gender in international affairs. After researching the opportunities SAIS had to offer in this regard, I knew SAIS Women Lead would provide me with the academic as well as practical experience creating, advocating and deepening spaces for feminist thought within international relations. After speaking with the director of the program and going through the interview process, I was given the opportunity to join the SAIS Women Lead team as a research assistant. In this position I have had the chance to explore different regions of the world, meet extraordinary women leaders and foster a community of diverse voices.

Being a part of the SAIS Women Lead program and as a practicum member has allowed me to explore an identity that is very important to my life and the career I want to pursue. More than anything, it opened my eyes to issues of representation and the importance of working at the intersection of things in and out of the classroom. It has truly been the type of experience that reminds you that the fight for inclusion, equity and feminism is fought every day in many different fronts, including the social constructs in your mind. It's fair to say that my experience in SAIS Women Lead wouldn't have been the same without the mentorship of Dr. Chiedo Nwankwor, director of SWL and lecturer in the African Studies department, whose teachings I will never forget. 
Q: What has been one of your favorite experiences at the school so far?
A: My favorite experience was the Pre-Term Microeconomics class before the start of the fall semester. Pre-Term led me to meet the people who would become my closest friends while at SAIS, as it gave me the opportunity to meet people at a deeper level without the stress and hecticness of a regular semester. We enjoyed the emptiness of the school before the fall semester began, and solved our problem sets without the stress of other classes and then, after class, we would go explore DC together because after all it was still summertime and we only had one class to worry about. It was at this time, between free pizza and Friday happy hours that I quickly realized I had made the right decision to come to SAIS; it was a place where people knew who they were and their worth, and without competing with one another, we simply shared our aspirations for a career in international relations. 

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate? 
A: I hope to devote my career to bringing stability to communities through education and innovation. In particular, I'd liked to focus on humanitarianism work related to food and agriculture, and also water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). 

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